Five Ways To Sell Not Scare

Jun 1st '16

Direct mail is not the place for “Project Fear.”


The markets are uncertain about the economic near term. In fact, the start of the year is most volatile I can remember the main indices ever being over a whole quarter. The government seems to be hell bent on dismantling the pensions system without achieving a general consensus from consumers or the profession. The regulator is on the look out for financial promotion transgressions.


Small businesses are in the grips implementing Auto enrolment and the minimum wage. On top of these issues that will probably take all of 2016 to play out, the media is obsessed with the spectacle of the EU Referendum and US Presidential Election.


So it’s not for me to criticise a fellow marketing practitioner trying to drum up some business among all this doom and gloom. I’m not posting this blog out of malice, to single anyone out and, it is only in my humble opinion.


However, I received this piece of direct mail at the weekend that I feel compelled to see if you and I could improve on it.




It isn’t inaccurate or misleading, in fact far from it. My issue is, it builds on the “Project Fear” that has gripped the EU Referendum and the financial themes I described at the outset of this piece.


It doesn’t sell to me, offer a bright future or solutions for the world’s ills. It just lists all that’s scary about investing right now. Frankly, if you weren’t worried about protecting whatever wealth you have before you opened the letter, you would by the time you finished reading it.


So in the spirit of trying to help one fund manager sell more to grow aggregate demand for all funds – here is how I would have approached it differently. I am interested in what you would change.


Know What Your Audience Cares About

Most people opening that email won’t be as well informed as you assume. Unless your list source can show some provenance for the contacts.  It’s worth paying the extra, well informed prospects are more likely to buy.


I subscribe to Money Week and as the sender advertises in it, I’m assuming that’s how I came to be sent their messages.


So I am reasonably well informed. I know exactly the issues they are talking about. I even have a Scooby as to their solutions.


But the direct mail doesn’t talk about solutions. It doesn’t say, here are 5 ways to ensure your investments make it through 2016 and beat inflation. It just repeats the problems.


Give a reason to invest with you.


So What About Your Audience That Doesn’t Care

This isn’t necessarily as tough as it sounds. Although your prospects may not care about how their pension pot investments are performing right now, they may be interested in the theme.


Your headline should draw attention to your body copy. Include essential information in the copy and be direct about why they should care right now. But be careful not to tell them what they should care about.

I mean, they don’t need to care that Government bonds may no longer be a safe haven. They do need to care that their pension savings performance is directly linked to when they can stop work – we all care about that.


Then you can tell them you have an easy way to track that performance. You should also be able to prove it too.


Demonstrate why it’s good for them.

What data do you have to show that you get investing right more often than other fund managers get it wrong? That’s a bonus tip. We call it social proof if you can find a third party or testimonials to support your claim.



Simple I know, but you need to be clear about what response you want.


What will satisfy you that you achieved a return from your direct mail piece that couldn’t have been achieved from your own brand of a Pirelli calendar or Michelin guide?


If there’s no call to action, your direct mail piece is just creating brand recognition. That’s nice, but it’s not going to translate into AuM anytime soon.


Don’t just list contact details:


Ask, suggest and entice a response from your piece.


Give Me a Break

You have gone to the expense of finding me and what I’m interested in. You’ve crafted a message that I care about that is aligned to what you can sell me and you have asked me to do contact you. But why should i?


I may sound greedy. But really, I’ve just got back from daughter’s football training, we’re both hungry. My wife isn’t back from the supermarket and I’m about to make lunch. You may have touched on something I care about, but why should I act now?


What piece of unique value can you give me if I contact you now? How valuable is it and when does your offer expire?


Give a compelling reason to respond now.



We’re talking about my life savings; I’m not going to rush into anything. No matter how much I now know you care about me retiring as soon as I can.


So we need a game plan. How is this direct mail piece integrated into other media I consume? What is going to follow it?


Will I receive an email now, an invitation to an event?


Plan to follow up, whatever the response.

I hope this has been helpful and sets out some principles that can help you to generate direct mail without the project fear. Leave that to the politicians, use your direct mail to sell.


Author: Simon Ryan


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